Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

After a protracted stop-go process dating back to 2003, the seven-year stalemate between the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (5+1 group) and the Islamic Republic regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program was brought to an end in a meeting in Geneva on 1 October 2009. A combination of sticks and carrots used alternately to cajole or threaten the Islamic Republic had proven futile. During this period Iran persistently claimed that its overall program aimed at producing nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. The suspicion in most of the rest of the world, however, was that the program was intended to develop nuclear weapons.
Neither side is now willing to see a breakdown of talks. The Islamic regime is facing the biggest challenges in its 30-year history. The United States and the European Union, in turn, are grappling with a number of domestic and foreign policy problems. Yet, if the past is any guide, future negotiations are likely to be long and hard. And the price asked by Tehran for cooperation might be high. Any concession on Iran’s part is likely to be in return for securing full diplomatic legitimacy, recognition of a prominent role in the region, and an iron-clad guarantee that there will be no foreign attempt at regime change. Non-partisan experts now believe that even if Iran can produce and deliver a workable nuclear weapon, it will not opt to deploy it. Under the worst scenario, the Islamic regime can be effectively isolated and contained until it changes from within. Nuclear bombs in different hands make all the difference.

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